Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cotton, windmills, grasshoppers and hay

Thursday, December 15, 2011
Left Kerrville, TX at about 9:30am with a destination of Sweetwater. The drive from Junction, TX north to Sweetwater was through a very rural part of TX. Mostly large ranches with cattle, or course, but also goats and sheep. We took a break in Paint Rock, a small community that has seen better days.

On the way to Sweetwater, we saw the largest windmill farm we’ve seen anywhere. There were hundreds of them. It’s nice seeing competing energy sources like oil rigs and windmills sharing the same land.

Tonight we’re camped at the Newman City Park in Sweetwater. The camping area is basically the parking lot surrounding the coliseum building complex. $16/night for a site with electricity and shared water connections. There is a dump station on site. Tomorrow there is a stock show in the coliseum. This afternoon, participants are bringing in their animals for the show.
As I had hoped, we drove through a nice rain storm today. It washed off any salt spray and sand I might have missed at the car wash in Port A.

Friday, December 16, 2011
Continued north to the Amarillo “Best” Wonderland RV Resort in Amarillo, TX. That’s a real mouthful for what is a very basic RV park. Ordinarily we go to lengths to avoid commercial campgrounds but tonight the temperature is forecast to be well below freezing so we wanted someplace with electrical hookups. $26/night for a full hookup site; a fair enough price and a great location right off our planned route.

Texas is a huge state; just mile after mile after mile. Today we drove through cotton, oil and cattle country.

Texas has lots of cows!!

There were several cattle feed lots along the road. It’s interesting to see the different ways in which hay is baled. On Amish farms, the small, traditional cube of hay is most common; probably because it’s the easiest to handle manually. The round bale seems to predominate in most areas but the feed lots around here tended to use very large cubes of hay ; most likely because it’s more efficient to stack and store cubes then cylinders.
There were thousands of acres of cotton fields and perhaps a dozen cotton gins. I can’t drive past a cotton farm, I suspect cotton plantation is not a politically correct word, without thinking of the role cotton played in the Civil War. Fatalities from the Civil War are estimated to be from 600,000 to 700,000.
Overall the quality of the roads on the drive from Corpus to Raton was very good. We like Texas; we’ll be back.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Today’s destination was Raton, NM. We topped off the propane tank in preparation for the very cold weather we expect in Longmont. The drive to Raton was pretty. The elevation is increasing, there is snow here and there, and the snow topped mountains are in view. A few days ago we were camped at sea level along the Gulf Coast. Right now we’re at 6,553’.
Tonight we’re staying at the Summerland RV Park. $33.34/night. Once again, a very basic place to just spend the night. We can see the traffic on I-25 but the camper is so well insulated, we can’t hear a sound. The plan is to dump the tanks tonight, put the antifreeze in them and then make minimal use of the tanks until we head south to where it’s warm enough for them to thaw out so they can be dumped. The weather forecast for the Longmont area is for sub-freezing weather every day.
In the morning, we make the drive north on I-25 to Suzanne’s house.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Moving north towards Colorado and Christmas.

We arrived in Port A last Friday. Last night we decided we had stayed here long enough and it was time to move on. The five days of beach camping cost us $4.00.

We really like this part of Texas and will be back. Spending our day’s backed up to the jetty was a nice way to meet other people and see interesting things.

During WW-II there was an artillery battery nearby to protect the inlet from German U-Boats. This survey marker was placed by the War Department during that time period.

A Winter Texan stopped by to admire the camper as people frequently do. We talked about the recent weather and he assured me all the rain and cold weather were certainly not the norm. A Canadian from New Brunswick, of all places,boy is he a long way from home, stopped to chat. They have spent their past winters in the Tampa area but got tired of the congestion. Can’t argue with that. The Tampa/St. Pete area, Orlando and the east coast south of West Palm Beach are terrible any time of the year, but worse in the winter. He told me of another good boondocking place in the area. On our way out of town we drove by and made notes for future use. I sent the coordinates to Ted so he can add it to his camping database. On Monday, a young couple stopped by to ask what it cost to camp on the beach, and what the rules were. They’re traveling all across America in a van for a year. When I told them it was free and there were no particular restrictions their eyes lit up. Then I told them about the bath house in the campground and suggested that they could probably take stealth showers,and they both had big smiles on their face. After that, we would see them strolling along the beach now and then.

This morning, first thing I paid the $4 fee and dumped the tanks and took on water. After that we went to a car wash that has a nice RV/Boat washing area to get the salt spray and sand washed off the camper. The vacuum cleaner did a great job in removing the 5#, or so, of sand from the inside. I hoping for some rain to wash off the roof and underneath real good.

On the drive here, we stopped in Oakville to have lunch at Van’s Bar-B-Que because of a road sign we had seen. As soon as we pulled up, we knew this was a winner. There were semis parked along the right-of-way and the parking lot was filled with pickup trucks and the building had a certain “rustic” look to it; sure signs of a good place to eat. Carol had the beef brisket and I had the sausage plate. The food was served on a heavy white waxed paper. The waitress just picked it up from the tray by holding the ends of the paper, and set it on the table in front of you. Plastic place settings. The brisket might be the best we have ever eaten. Carol could cut it with the side of her plastic fork. The ranch beans and potato salad were just as good. We’ll be back to Van’s. While in Oakville, I walked around the reconstructed old settlement. The Oakville area was settled in the early 1800’s by Irish immigrants. The city of Oakville was chartered in 1856. At one time it prospered because it was at the crossroads of ox-cart caravans and mule trains that traveled from Laredo to Goliad and from the Gulf Coast to San Antonio.

Tonight we’re camped at the Kerrville-Schreiner City Park in Kerrville. Full hookup sites for $26/night. A reasonable price.